It is difficult these days to avoid becoming familiar with popular disputes surrounding gender. Particularly contentious are questions regarding the ontology of the concepts of woman and man.
On one side of this debate is a group of skeptics who argue that these concepts are contingent - mere social constructs. On the other side of the debate are a group of people who argue that the concepts are necessary - that they possess an essence that is either eternal or somehow natural to the universe.
The whole debate makes me think of Plato’s “Republic” with the skeptics playing the part of Thrasymacus. Thrasymacus, of course, argues that “justice” is a contingent social construct and is, consequently, reducible to power, while Socrates argues that it is something real and eternal, albeit undefinable. This comparison raises the question of whether it is possible to admit, with the skeptics, that such concepts are social constructions, while simultaneously salvaging their necessity.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Is it possible to have a necessary social construct?